Can a Project Be Too Large?

I’m wondering if, technically speaking, a project can get too big (that is, can it have too much data of one sort or another). I’ve noticed as I’ve added files to my research folder that there has been a noticeable slow down in the speed of even basic functions (highlighting text, cuting and pasting, moving the cursor, etc.).

I guess maybe another way of asking the same question–although I’m not sure that it is–is Scrivener a memory hog (or can it be, at least at some point)? FWIW, I’m using a MacBook 2.0 Ghz Intel Core Duo (note: not the MacBook Pro) with 2 GB of memory. Most of the files I have in my current project folder are either PDFs, Word Docs, RTF docs. Very fiew graphics files, although some of the PDFs are essentially photo files (they have not been converted to text).

Would it be better, in the long run, to break a large project–a book–into several smaller projects (say, chapters)?

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There is a small percentage of users who experience slowdowns, though some do not even have to put much text into their project before they notice the signs. You might want to do some searching in the forums. There have been a few threads where resolution has been found. Generally it involves a conflict with some other program that is interacting with the way Scrivener manages text.

The Scrivener project itself is quite efficient. The program was designed, after all, for writing book length pieces. Keith, I, and several other beta testers, have all put ludicrous quantities of text and media into projects with no ill effect on overall behaviour.

That said, there are still a few unresolved cases floating around. If you haven’t already, do the typical performance run-down. Make sure your system is not running a lot of background applications. If you do not have a lot of memory, try to keep large applications like Aperture, Photoshop, and such closed. Especially look out for programs which monitor your text as you type. I have not had problems with any of these, but I know a few have. Logging in with “safe mode” by holding down the Shift key after entering your user password, and then seeing if Scrivener is still slow, is a good way of determining if another program is conflicting.

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I am one of those who have experienced slow downs. For me, it has nothing to do with any other program; rather it seems to have to do with the way Scr. stores files into memory (the details on this are elsewhere and can be searched). When things start to slow down, it’s usually because I have been moving around a lot between files doing research or writing. I then have to close Scr. and reopen the program and all is well until the next time I’ve moved around too much and too much has gotten stored into the system memory and things slow up again.

I don’t find this to be ideal, but it works and is a relatively minor inconvenience.


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I am presently at 81 mg and all is well (lot’o’research)

I also experience a serious slowdown. For instance: When I double-click a word and right-click to cut or copy it takes three seconds before the menu shows up.
I did not move files or anything and there are no big programs open.
The slowdown started today.


Have you tried restarting your computer to see if the slowdown goes away? Perhaps you could send me your project so I can test it? What system are you using? These reports of slowdowns are alarming, but so far they seem random and I have been unabe to reproduce them…

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So far my slowdown issues are always solved by quitting Scr. then reopening the program. I think we decided this was to clear out what Scr. was storing in memory. I do tend to move around a lot when I work and I think a lot of files get stored, so clearing it out seems to work. These intermittent issues can be such a pain to figure out, and it seems the slowdowns have different causes.

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I’ve been feeling some overall slowness since somewhere around the last system update (10.4.8 ) Is it possible this problem is more general and not Scrivener specific? Sorry not to have more detail. I’ll try to pay more attention today.

I restarted the machine but the problem is still there. I quit all programs but the problem remains. In Word when I select a word and right-click, the menu opens instantly so it is not an OS problem, I think.


Keith, I use an Imac Power PC G5

gertjan, could you send me your project, please? Incidentally, are you using non-English fonts? (When you send your project, you can always create a copy and then use Project Replace and replace random letters with other random letters to turn the text into gibberish if you don’t want me to read it; if the text isn’t in English, though, you don’t need to worry, given that I am an ignorant Englishman with only my mother tongue.)

It certainly shouldn’t be your system, and given that this problem remains after a restart, it sounds like your project.

One other thing to try first, though: search Finder/Spotlight for com.literatureandlatte.scrivener.plist. Move that file somewhere else (so you can restore it later if you want) and then launch Scrivener again. If everything speeds up again, then it was a preferences problem. Before trying this you could just try clearing your navigation histories (View > Document History > Clear Document History - do this for both editors).

Oh, and is the slowdown happening whilst typing, or only whilst bringing up the ctrl-click menu?


in the documents I use Geneva.
The view-history etc didn’t do anything so I moved the plist and that did the trick. But it still isn’t as fast as it used to be.
I’ll sent you the file, it’s the book I wrote in Scrivener. But it’s written in Dutch so I suppose you can’t read it. Pity. For you. :smiley: :smiley:



I have a 160mb project on an average PC (3.79 Ghz 6-core processor, 32gb RAM) and have been very gingerly trying to export sections to Word before Scriv crashes again. I tried to open it on a brand new Surface Pro 9 (16GB) last year and it simply could not. It would crash out halfway through. Only brand new (empty) files could be opened.

In fairness, I have about 100 different books in one file (I didn’t want a hundred thousand backups) - but 160mb file of text sure doesn’t seem like it should be big enough to cause problems.

Scrivener should be able to handle a 160 MB file without difficulty. Something else is going on. Please open a support ticket, here:

so that we can dig into what the issue might be.

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I have a 80 GIG project file on my Macbook Pro M1, and I have never experienced a crash associated with the file size directly. Sure, it’s slow to compile and index, but it’s never crashed because of the size.


@NamoNakiMichi Wow! 80 G, you’ve got me beat by far. And I always thought I was the crazy one :wink: I’d love to learn from you.

May I ask how many documents that is and what kind of documents?

How do you search in this project? In my experience, projects with 6 G and 20,000 documents are no longer searchable because it takes far too long.

It contains two-thousand eight-hundred individual stories, with corresponding book bibles, six-thousand writing exercises, nine-hundred and twenty Morning Pages, my separate writing journal, two-hundred and fifteen craft read-only reference pages, and all of my miscellaneous notes.

Searching is quite easy, I just select the file I want to search, copy the contents, paste it into a temporary Scrivener file, I do whatever it is that I need to do and then I paste the modified text back into the original file.

When I need to do anything related to compiling, the manuscript goes into a new Scrivener file for all the finalizing and administrative activities.


So you only search in one document/file at a time? Never in the whole project?

What happens if you search the entire project?